Universal health care is a right and the government should pay for it.
Abortion is wrong and you shouldn’t have one.
Tax cuts are the answer to the deficit.
We should spend more money on the military.
Entitlements are bad.
Vaccines should be mandatory.

The list of political disagreements goes on and on.

In 1952 General Dwight Eisenhower was heavily favored to win the US presidential election. My mother was a diehard Democrat and was voting for Adelaide Stevenson. I remember my mom telling me that she voted for Stevenson even though most people she knew were voting for Eisenhower, the Republican candidate. My mom didn’t care what other people were doing and it was a non-issue. It was just a choice and she didn’t lose any friends over it.

Why has politics become so divisive today?

Where did all this hatred come from?
What will it take to get to a place where we treat each other with respect, dignity, and kindness?

At some point, things shifted from “Here’s how I see things, what do you think?” to “These are my beliefs and they are The Truth.”

We, in the US, have become polarized as a country taking sides on issues that now define us

He’s a Trumper.
She’s a liberal.
If you don’t vote for Trump, you don’t want to make America great again.
If you vote for Biden, you will be living in socialized anarchy.

This madness is causing separateness and unnecessary pain.

You won’t be surprised to hear me say it’s our beliefs that cause this suffering

Our beliefs impede our ability to see things clearly. Anaïs Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” I would contend that we see things as we believe they are.

Black people are … Muslims are … Immigrants are … Democrats are … Republicans are …

These beliefs are learned. We are not born with them.

If we could realize that our beliefs are Our Truth and not The Truth it would be easier for us to come together, compromise, listen, and be open to new ideas.

Many of our most divisive beliefs are learned from past experiences

If you’re raised in a home where you are told that the Democrats want to take your Second Amendment right to guns you will probably believe your parents. If you’re raised in a home where you were told the government should have a bigger say in who gets what then you’ll be leaning in a different direction.

We not only grow up with beliefs that impact how we think today but we are being fed information based on who we listen to

The media delivers information based on their beliefs. There is now a conservative media and a liberal media. We can easily listen to channels, newspapers, blogs, and podcasts with the same point of view repeated over and over again.

We’re told that the other side wants to hurt us or take away something from us. As a result, we have lost the ability to dialogue and compromise. Its become a battle to defend “what’s right” rather than a chance to discover something new.

We have lost the ability to present the facts and allow people to live consistently with their own values. We are told you must believe as I do.

I often tell the story of my friend Beth. Upon finding out that she was an Evangelical Christian I asked her about her faith. She said something I will never forget.

“I don’t believe in sex before marriage, but if my daughter does I’ll take her for birth control. And I don’t believe in abortion, but if my daughter has one I will love her and Jesus will love her.”

Beth had her beliefs but they had nothing to do with her daughter’s right to her own. This is what we need to live in peace.

Morty used to say “What happens to questions when you think you know something? They stop. What happens to learning when questions stop? Learning stops.

When was the last time you questioned someone about what their reasons are for supporting a position you disagreed with and then stopped to really listen without argument or corrections?

I believe that we need to start asking questions rather than simply being led by our beliefs formed in the past

What would serve my family, community, country right now?

Then really look deep inside and know that this is your truth for this moment and honor someone else’s.

It is OK to have your values and even fight to protect them. What is not OK to hate people because they have different values than yours.

Just like my dad and my mom’s friends honored her decision to vote for a candidate they opposed, we can honor and have room for people who don’t agree with us.

How do you get to a place where you can really listen to another person with whom you disagree?

One way is to use the four-step process, we describe in this article about how to dissolve negative feelings using the Lefkoe Occurring Process. If you use what process to deal with feelings that come up during disagreements, you’ll discover a greater ability to listen to others and have them listen to you.